The negative evidence hypothesis: the acquisition of the double-object construction by Brazilian-Portuguese English bilinguals

Cândido Oliveira, Alberto Penzin


This study aims to add to the body of evidence regarding the linguistic structures that seem to be more challenging in L2 acquisition than in L1 acquisition (DeKeyser, 2005; Ellis, 2008; Inagaki, 2001; Slabakova, 2014; Sorace, 2011). The Negative Evidence Hypothesis (NEH) (AUTHOR) predicts that bilinguals are less sensitive than native speakers to violations resulted from the overgeneralization of an L2-specific rule. We tested this hypothesis by analyzing the behavior of Brazilian Portuguese-English bilinguals with different profiles towards double-object construction with unlicensed verbs in two acceptability judgment tasks. The results corroborate the NEH by conveying that bilinguals gain sensitivity as they become more proficient, yet, the data suggests that not even when immersed in the L2, they become as sensitive as native speakers.


Negative Evidence Hypothesis; Double-Object Construction; Learnability; Second Language Acquisition; Bilingualism

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